Rugombo cattle farmers in distress

At least 40 cows were stolen in the past two months. Breeders who already live in constant fear of being stolen deplore the inaction of the administration and security forces. They promise to take drastic actions against the thieves.

Some cows found on the 10th side road grazing.

“We always sleep with fear. Our cows are constantly stolen,” say cow breeders in Rugombo commune of Cibitoke province in the north-west of Burundi. The areas where this night robbery is rife are the 12th and the 6th side streets on Rusiga, Kagazi and Nyongerigufa hills. This theft is often committed on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.

G .V. a cow breeder on Rusiga hill at the 10th street says that it’s been a while that the theft of cows has been rife in the area. He finds it incomprehensible that cows are stolen and disappear while night patrols are conducted by police agents and joint security committees. He says: “We alert the administration and the police but they drag their feet. When they arrive, they find thieves have already vanished into the forest. » This breeder asks the police to intervene quickly in case they are alerted.

“We spend sleepless nights. We hear alerts every night. In the space of three weeks, five cows have been stolen from my cowshed. I really don’t know what to do,” says N.D. All measures taken to secure our cowsheds, he continues, are doomed to failure.

Those who steal those cows have neither been identified nor caught so far. Breeders met say those thieves are Burundians who would be working with Congolese people. “How can a Congolese know when I sleep, when I carry out a night patrol? They are our fellow countrymen who are involved in this night robbery,” says GN.

It’s the same complaint from N.J who deplores the theft of three of his cows.”There are receivers of stolen cows among Burundians». He adds that there is an exchange of cows between Burundian and Congolese thieves. This breeder attributes the responsibility to the communal administration and the police. “We pay communal taxes for each cow. That’s why the administration has to intervene,” he says.
These breeders are in distress. Some even start selling their cows at lower price. “I opted to sell all my cows not to lose everything,” says another breeder.

Some dubious tactics in this robbery

One of the barns where three cows were stolen

According to the breeders interviewed, it is difficult to know the tactics used by these thieves. They claim that most of the stolen cows are transported to the DRC and those stolen in the DRC are transported to Burundi.

“We do not know how they operate. Some cows are transported to Congo. Others are brought to an unknown destination. We cannot find them,” says a breeder met on Rusiga hill.
A shepherd from Kagazi hill is astonished: “We were used to classic thieves, but today’s thieves are very dangerous and clever. Some come at night; carry the cows in vehicles towards unknown destinations so far.”

“Recently, two vehicles of Probox type were intercepted on the Muhira River carrying cows,” confirms a breeder.

Another shepherd says thieves are often armed with machetes. He, too, says he does not know the tactics those robbers use: “They just get away with the cows without being seen by night watchmen.”
These farmers organized themselves to pay watchmen who conduct night patrols. But these measures are futile. Breeders demand a military position near the cowsheds. They also ask the court to punish thieves: “We are surprised that thieves only spend very little time in prison once they are caught. After, they come to taunt and threaten us. “If this situation persists, he warns, breeders risk doing a mob justice.

The administration reassures

Béatrice Kaderi, Administrator of Rugombo commune, recognizes the recurrence of cow theft in her administrative entity. She plans to organize and multiply meetings to curb that robbery: “We will work with the police to see how to track down these thieves, » she says. This administrative authority regrets that there would be collaboration between thieves on both borders. According to her, there would be complicity between the Burundian and Congolese people. “We will increase vigilance on the borders.

Mrs. Kaderi asks the population in general and the cattle breeders in particular to remain vigilant and alert the administration and the police in time.

Bonfort Ndoreraho, the provincial police commissioner, makes the same observation: “The theft of cattle is increasing. “He promises to introduce a new night patrol system. He says he has already contacted his counterparts from the DRC to see how to strengthen security on both borders.
As for justice authorities, the president of Cibitoke province High Court promises to judge accordingly any thief who will be apprehended over cattle robbery

Translated into English by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana